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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Officer testifies tasered man said 'Please help me'

December 11, 2008
Richard Cuthbertson, Calgary Herald

Lying on his stomach, his head turned to the side, Jason Doan said "please help me"moments after he was Tasered for the final time.

This is according to RCMP Const. Bea Jay Kiziak, who said those words were the only coherent thing she heard Doan utter as police wrestled to handcuff the 28-year-old man.

Officers who testified Wednesday at the fatality inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Doan's death described struggling to arrest the man, noting he seemed to have incredible strength.

"He was extraordinarily strong, no sense of pain," Kiziak said.

Another officer, Const. Chris Kosack, had, during an earlier foot chase, been struck in the head by a potato fork handle wielded by Doan. Kosack said Doan's strength during the arrest was at a level he'd never seen before.

The inquiry heard Wednesday that Doan was punched multiple times in the face, kicked once, struck with a baton around five times and Tasered three times as three Red Deer City RCMP officers tried to handcuff the man. Shortly after Doan was arrested on Aug. 10, 2006, he went into cardiac arrest. Three weeks later, he died in hospital.

It was Kiziak who first noticed that Doan's face had turned purple moments after he was handcuffed. She radioed for an ambulance, and told dispatch that paramedics should hurry.

Kosack ran to his police vehicle and grabbed a CPR mask.When he returned, Kiziak said, she had to put the mask together as Kosack's hands were shaking. Kosack and another officer began giving Doan CPR until paramedics arrived.

Meanwhile, the three RCMP officers who testified Wednesday said there was nothing they could have done differently as they tried to arrest Doan.

They also testified that before the incident they had little or no knowledge of "excited delirium."

The inquiry heard testimony on Monday that Doan was likely in a state of excited delirium. The doctor who did the autopsy could not say if Doan was in the state at the time of the incident as he based his assumption on RCMP reports. Those in excited delirium, caused by a brain chemical imbalance, can be violent, exhibit superhuman strength and a higher tolerance to pain.The doctor also told the inquiry the Taser did not kill Doan.

Kosack initially tackled Doan before the other officers arrived to the scene.

The constable testified he had received a call on his radio about a man who seemed erratic and agitated, breaking windows in a Red Deer neighbourhood. He spotted Doan, who fit the suspect's description, and yelled for him to stop.

Doan took off, Kosack said, and the officer ran after the man. But as Kosack rounded a minivan, Doan hit him over the head with the handle or shaft of a potato fork. Kosack said the hit grazed his head and sent him toward the ground. Doan, he said, took off again.

After a brief pursuit, Kosack said, he managed to take Doan to the ground. As they wrestled, Kosack yelled for help. A civilian came to his aid and tried to hold Doan's legs.

But Doan kept struggling, Kosack said. The officer testified he tried to get the man's arms behind his back and into hand-cuffs by punching him multiple times in the face as Doan lay on his stomach. Kosack said he told Doan to relax his arms so he could be handcuffed. It was to no avail. Kiziak arrived, and said she saw Doan and Kosack grappling on the ground. She testified she kicked Doan in the side, saying "he didn't flinch,"before she tried to pull one of his arms behind his back.

"He was far too strong for me," she testified. "I wasn't getting anywhere."

Moments later, a third officer, Const. Jason Vedder, came on scene. Vedder testified he took out his Taser and warned Doan he was about to use it. He then Tasered the man in the lower back.Doan had no reaction to this, Vedder said. The officer tried again, warning Doan, before stunning him a second time with the Taser. This had a better effect, as officers were able to get one arm.

A third hit with the Taser allowed police to finally get the cuffs on Doan, Vedder said.

Kosack and Kiziak testified they only remember the Taser being used twice.

Kosack told the inquiry he believed it had been a good idea to use the Taser, as no other "avenues" seemed successful in arresting Doan.

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